Best things to do in Sidemen, Bali blog post header

Sidemen is the best place to stay in Bali if you’re looking for an authentic Balinese experience filled with stunning rice terraces, incredible volcano views, and friendly caring locals. In this travel guide, I will tell you all you need to know about Sidemen and share the best things to do in this amazing village in Bali.

I have been to Bali twice in my life. Once in 2016 and once in 2019 – and honestly… not much has changed. I still find the island too overrun by tourists that don’t respect or care for the Balinese values.

In a moment of frustration, I even wrote this blog post: Is Bali still worth visiting?

I don’t like that I’m not able to go for a walk without people constantly yelling at me, “taxi?” and “massage?”. This happened all the time in Kuta, Canggu and Ubud, however, it NEVER happened in Sidemen.

…Did I just find paradise on Bali?

In my opinion, Sidemen is by far the best place to stay in Bali – plus, there are so many great things to do there! This amazing valley literally has everything you are looking for in a Bali trip: Green lush rice fields, friendly locals, and pure serenity.

Now let’s get started on this blog post (and travel guide) about amazing Sidemen in Bali! When you’re done reading, you should hopefully be completely covered and ready to plan your own trip.

*DISCLOSURE: Dear Reader, this blog post contains affiliate links. If you click on them, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend tours, hotels, and products which I use myself or find worthy to recommend.*

About Sidemen in Bali Q&A

Before diving in to all the great things to do in Sidemen, I thought I first wanted to share some general information about the place. So if you are planning a trip to Bali, and you need a bit of practical information about Sidemen, then this section is for you.

Where is Sidemen village?

Sidemen is located in the Karangasem province, which is on the East side of Bali.

The village is not far from Padang Bai, which makes Sidemen the perfect place to stay in Bali before you move on to the Gili islands for some beach life and turtle-snorkeling.

What is Sidemen known for in Bali?

Sidemen is a village that mostly depends on traditional weaving and rice farming, which makes it a great place to experience the beautiful view of a rice terrace valley in Bali. The locals in the area therefore most often work in the rice fields or work with weaving thread into beautiful sarongs.

However, you’ll also find a few restaurants, hotels, and tour operators (okay I only saw one tour operator…), which all surely are dependent on you and I to visit. So tourism is also a small (yet important) part of the economy in Sidemen.

Why should you visit Sidemen in Bali?

When you search “Bali” on Google, you often see pictures of temples, rice terraces and beaches. The sad truth is that a lot of these pictures aren’t showing the reality of Bali. I find the biggest cities on the island are overrun by tourists and pushy local people who always try to sell you something.

However, there is a reason why Sidemen is still called a “village” – it’s a small town that houses way more locals than tourists compared to many other places in Bali.

So, if you want a real authentic Balinese experience, you should definitely go here!

The locals in Sidemen actually smiles at you and engage in conversation, even if they cannot communicate with you in English. How amazing is that? You feel very welcome in this part of Bali, and you don’t feel like a walking wallet compared to other places such as Kuta, Canggu, and Ubud.

On top of that, there are many great things to see and do in Sidemen (which I will get to in a minute).

But for me, the best thing about Sidemen is definitely the incredible scenery you get here. Not only do you see the many layers of rice terraces stretch over the hills, you also have a straight view to incredible Mount Agung (Bali’s biggest volcano). The scenery is honestly so stunning!

I think that it’s safe to say that there are many reasons why you should visit Sidemen on your trip to Bali.

How to get to Sidemen?

Sidemen is only about 50 kilometers away from Denpasar Airport. However, expect the trip from the airport to Sidemen to take at least 2 hours – especially during the day! Bali has many traffic jams, and that’s just the way it is.

Useful Tip: Ask your accommodation in Sidemen for pick-up at the airport. That way you don’t have to go through the taxi-hassle when arriving in Bali. Plus, the locals in Sidemen could really use the extra cash.

We actually went from Canggu to Sidemen for the steep price of 450.000 IDR (€25). Taxis in Canggu, Kuta and Ubud are run by a “mafia”, so basically you are not allowed to take any Ubers etc. and you always have to haggle with the taxi-men.

This is one of the reasons why we got tired of Bali. There is always a lot of hassle about money and you often feel like a walking wallet! Luckily, this is NOT the case in Sidemen.

I haven’t mentioned any public transportation because I simply couldn’t find any. So, you have to rely on transfer to and from Sidemen village.

Where to stay in Sidemen?

Our accommodation in Sidemen was absolutely magical! We rented our own little apartment for a couple of days. It was €35/night and we woke up and went to bed to the majestic view of Mount Agung.

Unbelievably incredible!

Our window was like a painting of a massive volcano in a setting of beautiful green rice terraces. There was something so enchanting about this place, it really brought a feeling of serenity and peace. I felt so good waking up here…

The little apartment was set on top of Café Amrita which served delicious coffee, interesting tea from plants native to Southeast Asia, and it had a small pool. The pool was very welcoming after a full day of exploring, and I loved how they allowed their customers from the café to use it too.

I can only recommend Amrita Villa if you want to stay somewhere off the beaten track in Bali – absolutely a stunning place!

The two men who were taking care of the café and apartment even asked us if we wanted to join them for some fresh fish. We ate freshly caught tuna on our terrace and drank palm wine with them. They were so sweet! Suddenly we had transformed from customers to friends.

My boyfriend Glenn even accepted their invitation to go to their home one evening! Glenn came home later that night, a bit tipsy and bringing me stories of palm wine and karaoke. I’m telling you, the locals in Sidemen are the best!

I think it’s hard to find a bad place to stay in Sidemen when the hospitality levels are so good!

Anyways, now that you’re all caught up with practical information, it’s time to get to the essence of this blog post: The best things to in Sidemen, Bali.

Mount Agung view from our accommodation in Sidemen Bali
The view of Mount Agung from our apartment – incredible!

The 5 Best Things to do in Sidemen, Bali

Sidemen has a lot to offer, and since it’s the only authentic place I have ever visited in Bali, it means no tourists and loads of possibilities to do things exactly the way you want!

So here is my list of the BEST things that you can do and see in Sidemen.

1. Hike in Sidemen’s rice terrace valley

One of the absolute best things to do on your visit to Sidemen in Bali is to go hiking through the rice terrace valley.

We got up really early one morning to go on a guided tour around Sidemen Valley. Nyoman, who is born in Sidemen and also managed the place we stayed at, took us on a hike around the area.

It was such an interesting tour where we learned a lot about the vegetation in the area and the local ways of living.

We walked on the edge of- and in-between the rice terraces in Sidemen Valley. It was all very adventurous! We learned about many plants on the way such as coconuts, peanuts, cocoa, snake fruit and many more.

We also learned a lot about the process of making rice and realized that there is a fine art to growing rice, which is not as simple as you might think.

This tour was definitely one of the highlights from our time in sidemen (and actually in our whole trip to Bali). However, the weather got really hot and our tour went late, so remember to get some snacks, extra water, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun if you want to do the tour.

You can ask for the tour at Amrita Café in Sidemen. We payed 250.000 IDR (2019 price), and it took half a day. Or you can book a similar tour on GetYourGuide with cooking class included.

Me trying to carry a heavy bag of rice
Me trying to carry a heavy bag of rice on my head – it did not go well.
working in the rice fields in Sidemen with mount aging in the background, Bali
People working in the rice terraces of Sidemen with Mount Agung in the background – amazing Bali!

2. Visit a traditional weaver

Another great thing to do in Sidemen is to visit a traditional weaver.

Weaving is often an art that is passed on from generation to generation within the female side of the family. So if you’re a woman and your mother is a weaver, then there is a great chance that you will become a weaver yourself.

We visited a traditional weaver on our guided tour around Sidemen, but you can also go by yourself.

We learned that it takes a full month of work to weave enough meters to create just one sarong. Isn’t that just mind blowing?! And the sarongs are sold for 2.200.200 IDR (€130 April 2021 conversion rate).

Ask your accommodation for recommendations if you want to visit a weaver.

There is often a shop next door to the weaving room where you can buy some of these beautiful handmade sarongs if you like.

One of the best things to do in Sidemen is to see the weavers in action, Bali
Watching the weavers in action is one of the best things to do in Sidemen, Bali
Beautiful handmade Sarong from Sidemen in Bali
Look at the beautiful sarong she is weaving!

3. Make your own jewelry at Agung Silver

One of the things that we never got to do (but really wanted to do!) was to make our own jewelry at Agung Silver in Sidemen. However, the little jewelry store was ALWAYS busy, so we never had the chance.

Apparently, Lost LeBlanc (a famous travel vlogger on YouTube) made a vlog from the shop where he and his girlfriend crafted their own rings. You can watch his travel vlog here: We Made our rings! BALI VLOG.

You can find Agung Silver on the Raya Tebola Road in Sidemen. I don’t know what the opening hours are, but the silver workshop lasts 3 hours and costs 450.000 IDR (2019 price) with 5 grams of silver included from Sumatra in Indonesia.

During our stay in Sidemen, Glenn and I met another couple who had attended the silver workshop, and they spoke very highly about it. So, if you want to do something a little bit different and make your own souvenir from Bali, then go check out Agung Silver on Instagram. You can also book a jewelry making class in Ubud on GetYourGuide for just €26 in case you’re already in that city.

4. Rent a scooter and explore East Bali

My favorite thing to do in Sidemen (and Bali!) is to rent a scooter and just go explore!

On our first full day in Sidemen, we rented a scooter from our accommodation because we wanted to see what the best place in Bali had to offer.

We found that there are many waterfalls and temples in the area, and best of all, you drive through many local Balinese villages and see beautiful landscapes full of green rice fields on the way!

Just be aware that if you want to drive to Lempuyang temple, then you need one scooter per person. The road is very steep and curvy, so we eventually had to turn around because our scooter constantly broke down on the mountain… Read our unfortunate story in my blog post: 10 Funny Travel Short Stories.

You often hear stories from Bali about tourists who get stopped by corrupt police and have to pay a fine. However, this didn’t happen to us once – maybe because the area of Sidemen and Karangasem isn’t touristy at all.

Riding a scooter shouldn’t be a problem in this part of Bali. Just take care of yourself and the other people on the road. We rented a scooter for 30.000 IDR per day from our accommodation in Sidemen.

Riding a scooter is one of the best things to do in Sidemen, Bali - here is me and my scooter
Renting a scooter to explore the nearby area is on of the best things to do in Sidemen, Bali
Waterfall in Bali
Chasing waterfalls in Karangasem province

5. Enjoy the serenity and cool down in a pool

When you’re visiting Sidemen, make sure to do one of the greatest things here: Nothing!

Sidemen village and valley is a place of serenity and tranquility.

You haven’t fully enjoyed Sidemen if you haven’t just had a day to relax your mind. You can easily spent a long time just taking in the view of beautiful Mount Agung while enjoying a drink. Sidemen is also the perfect place to really dive into a new book, and finish it!

There are several hotels around Sidemen that has a pool. You can often use them in exchange for you buying a drink or a meal. Like I mentioned earlier, Amrita Café lets you use their pool when you buy a drink.

Swimming in a pool is not mandatory on your visit to Sidemen, but it’s definitely a nice way to cool down from the humid and hot weather in Bali. Plus, most of the pools have incredible views to Mount Agung!

So make sure to take your time to do a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing on your trip to Sidemen in Bali – I know this sounds weird, but it’s really good for the mind.

Sunset over Mount Agung in Bali
Sunset over Mount Agung from our Apartment in Sidemen

The Future of Sidemen in Bali – how you can support

We saw a few new buildings under construction, but it really doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a big tourist destination anytime soon. At least I hope so!

I believe that Kuta, Canggu and Ubud will still host the majority of the tourists on Bali. Sidemen is a bit further away and it’s less convenient to get to, which is good because it means less people.

However, I still want to advocate for this place to become more noticed by tourists because there are a few restaurants and tour guides who depend on tourism. Every night we literally ate in an empty restaurant, which was a bit of a sad scene…

So please, if you want to experience the authentic Bali, then Sidemen is the best place to stay! It’s beautiful, serene and friendly. If I ever return to Bali, I will definitely return straight to Sidemen.

What you can do as a traveler is to stay in Sidemen and support the locals. Don’t rent a private villa with a private chef. Instead, go out and explore the village, support the little shops, and eat at the local restaurants in Sidemen. Put your money at the local experiences in Bali, rather than the big tourist experiences.

And please share Sidemen with the people you know would love this quiet and serene place – don’t try to convince your party backpacker friends to come here. Sidemen has to be respected for what it is, which is the best place in Bali to find tranquility and get back to nature. I just love it here!

I apologize if I sometimes sound negative towards Bali. But I’ve had some bad experiences here, and it’s not my favorite travel destination. However, I do believe that places like Sidemen can still be found, and those places will be the reason for my future return to Bali.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog post about the best things to do in Sidemen – Authentic Amazing Bali! Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions or observations that you want to add. Thanks for reading! Check out my blog post: interesting facts about Bali.

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    1. I know! I felt like I finally got to see what all the fuss was about! I always thought Bali was way too overcrowded, but luckily for us there are still places like Sidemen 🙂

  1. This sounds like such a fun trip! I had never actually heard of Sidemen but it sounds like my kind of place! I’m really hoping I’ll still be able to make it to Bali sometime this year. I’ll definitely save this post for whenever I get the chance to go 😁

    1. Please go to Sidemen if you are going to Bali, even if just for a day! I promise you an authentic experience and beautiful scenery 🙂 Hope you get there this year! We all miss traveling…

  2. I’ve been to Bali three times in the last few years and I’ve never heard of Sidemen! However, your post has made me want to go! I’ll definitely be checking it out next time I go back!

    1. I know, I also never heard of Sidemen before a friend suggested me. You should definitely check it out. It really is the authentic Bali, we’ve all been searching for! Enjoy 🙂

  3. aw, I missed Sideman when I was in Bali, but I totally agree that the east side of the island is nicer than the touristy spots! I spent a few days in Pemuteran and found it very laid-back and friendly.

    1. Well then you have a new spot for next time 🙂 I never heard about Pemuteran before. I’ll be sure to check that out on my next trip to Bali! Thanks.

      1. I agree. Sideman is so lovely – as are the people. I had the pleasure of visiting in April of this year, while visiting my son and his family in Bali. It is such a peaceful place – I would definitely return if I have the opportunity. I would highly recommend ATI’s Restaurant – large menu, great food and Mama Ati and her staff are so genuine – a wonderful dining experience – twice 🙂

        1. That’s lovely Susan! I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Sidemen and thanks for the recommendation for ATI’s Restaurant – I’m looking forward to try her food on the next trip 😊

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